3 Tap Trends in Michelle Dorrance's TIRELESS: A Tap Dance Experience

Joseph Wiggan and Josette Wiggan-Freund in Harmony: Tap in Motion. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

This summer at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, tap program director Michelle Dorrance curated a mixed repertory program that showcased the best of the best in tap innovation. Four extremely diverse acts graced the stage of the Ted Shawn Theatre for a one-of-a-kind tap extravaganza. Here are three of our favorite tap trends that we hope to see much more of.

1.Tap and jazz music go hand in hand: OK, so this isn't so much of a trend as an integral facet of tap history and culture, but in TIRELESS, tap dance and jazz music were fused like never before. Brother/sister duo Joseph Wiggan and Josette Wiggan-Freund brought tracks by Duke Ellington to life in their harmonious duet, part choreographed, part improvised. Later, Jumaane Taylor of Chicago's M.A.D.D. Rhythms closed the show with Supreme Love—a reverent, yet crowd-pleasing tribute to John Coltrane.

Joe Orrach in In My Corner. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

2.Tap + theater = #winning: Joe Orrach's blend of dance and theater in In My Corner was a recipe for success. With first-person narration, live music and even some boxing segments with a punching bag, Orrach shared a heartfelt interpretation of his journey from welterweight boxing champion to tap choreographer. With all eyes on Orrach, you could hear a pin drop in the theater.

Reona and Takashi Seo in Aun. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

3.Improvisation at its finest: In Aun, Reona and Takashi Seo showed the audience the extent to which two performers can be on the same wavelength. With Takashi on upright bass and Reona tapping, the pair carried on a completely improvised musical conversation, pushing their respective instruments to the limits. At one point Reona tapped on top of and then inside a metal bucket while Takashi riffed off her rhythms on bass.

For more on TIRELESS, check out the postshow talk with Michelle Dorrance and the performers.

Scott Robbins, Courtesy IABD

The International Association of Blacks in Dance is digitizing recordings of significant, at-risk dance works, master classes, panels and more by Black dancers and choreographers from 1988 to 2010. The project is the result of a $50,000 Recordings at Risk grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources.

"This really is a long time coming," says IABD president and CEO Denise Saunders Thompson of what IABD is calling the Preserving the Legacy and History of Black Dance in America program. "And it's really just the beginning stages of pulling together the many, many contributions of Black dance artists who are a part of the IABD network." Thompson says IABD is already working to secure funding to digitize even more work.

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Studio Owners
The Dance Concept staff in the midst of their costume pickup event. Photo courtesy of Dance Concept

Year-end recitals are an important milestone for dancers to demonstrate what they've learned throughout the year. Not to mention the revenue boost they bring—often 15 to 20 percent of a studio's yearly budget. But how do you hold a spring recital when you're not able to rehearse in person, much less gather en masse at a theater?

"I struggled with the decision for a month, but it hit me that a virtual recital was the one thing that would give our kids a sense of closure and happiness after a few months on Zoom," says Lisa Kaplan Barbash, owner of TDS Dance Company in Stoughton, MA. She's one of countless studio owners who faced the challenges of social distancing while needing to provide some sort of end-of-year performance experience that had already been paid for through tuition and costume fees.

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Teachers Trending
Ryan Smith Visuals, courtesy Whitworth

A New Hampshire resident since 2006, Amanda Whitworth is the director of dance at Plymouth State University and the co-founder of ARTICINE, a nonprofit that uses the performing and creative arts as a means to improve people's health. Whitworth is also the founder of Lead With Arts, a consulting service working in three priority areas: performance and production, arts and health, and creative placemaking. The NH State Council on the Arts recommended her to the governor for a two-year term, February 2020 to February 2022. She is the first dancer in New Hampshire to hold the title of artist laureate. We caught up with her to hear about her new role:

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